You have rights. Exercise those rights intelligently.
The prospect of UCMJ action is one of the most stressful events in a service member’s career and life.
Intelligently exercising your rights can improve your chances of a successful outcome substantially.
The Constitution and the UCMJ affords you many rights. You should know that:
1. You have the right to remain silent. (BEWARE OF PRETEXT PHONE CALLS)
This is critical. Your command may exert extreme influence to coerce you into making a statement. Investigators will tell you anything to get you to talk. They will tell you that they are simply trying to close the book on the investigation. They will tell you it’s no big deal, they just need a statement. They will appeal to your emotions. They will tell you that you have to give a statement.
Sometimes a helpful script for invoking your rights might go as follows:
"Sir, I do want to cooperate, but under the circumstances I am invoking my 5th Amendment and Article 31 Rights to remain silent and to speak to a lawyer. I would like to speak to a lawyer at this time."
You can reiterate the above as needed to ensure that your right to remain silent is protected.
Also, if you are accused of sexual assault, be extremely wary of phone calls or conversations from individuals - especially alleged victims - who want to talk about the events in question. Pretext and recorded conversations are a favorite tool of law enforcement. Very rarely has a client regretted not saying anything.
2. You have the right to speak to an attorney, whether or not you committed a crime.
You should always consult an attorney before discussing with anyone. You can contact this firm for a free initial consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-355-1095 24 hours a day.
3. You have the right to have an attorney by your side when you talk to any investigator or anyone in your chain of command.
NCIS, CID, and OSI often type your statement for you. Your words get twisted. They frequently paraphrase and use incriminating language. They will often rush you through the process of signing your statement so that you do not have an opportunity to fully read the statement.
4. You have the right to refuse a polygraph examination.
Military investigators rely heavily on confessions. They will sometimes be unscrupulous in their tactics. You need to consult with a lawyer and ensure that you invoke your Fifth Amendment and Article 31 Rights before speaking to investigators. By talking to a lawyer first you will dramatically increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.
The Court-Martial Process
Your Right to an Attorney
How to Obtain Experts
Right to a Speedy Trial
Jury Selection in the Military
Types of Affirmative Defenses
The Military Rules of Evidence
Military Motions Practice
Sex Offender Registration
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